HACKING by nml.ru.ac.za
The lure of the underground.
The dark-side is always interesting. Knowing that
you are doing something that you shouldnt and knowing that it entirely up to you not
to get caught. The world of the hacker often seems unreal. Using only his/her skill, a
couple of tech-toys and a few contacts in the underworld to outsmart the enemy, complete
the mission and then disappear without a trace. Back into the darkness, until it is time
to strike again.
This is one impression one can get from going
through literature about hacking. The thrill they get from freeing information, the
knowledge that the law is out there and looking for you, but to find you they have to look
all over the world because thanks to the internet it is possible to work from just about
On the other hand there is the hacker as
criminal, a thief who slinks into a system and takes whatever (s)he wants. The vandal that
disrupts and destroys for no reason, just because (s)he can. The juvenile delinquent who
vents his/her frustration out by making it hard for other people.
Then of course there is the hackers
themselves who see it as harmless fun, a service to the people who believe in freedom of
speech and an addictive love-affair with technology.
The term hacking
In my research I have used a textbook definition
of the term hacking. It refers to the act of gaining unauthorised access to a computer,
computer system or telecommunications system. Many definitions go on to imply the purpose
of gaining unauthorised access to be that of theft of information, money, software; or to
cause disruption by altering or destroying programs. For reasons I will explain later, I
have chosen to limit the definition.
People hack for various reasons and to say they
all intend to steal or purposefully cause disruption would be unjust.
Hacking is something unique to the information
age and the growth of the internet has made it easier and more widespread. It has become a
part cyber culture and in fact, a sub-culture of its own.
Nowhere else is there anything like it. People
don't break into your office or home "just for the thrill of it." You don't find
someone breaking into a bank to see if they could do it and then inform the bank of the
security flaw that enabled them to get access.
Yes there are many people who use their computer
skills to gain access to systems for purposes of monetary gain, destruction of data,
revenge on past employers etc. The reasons are as diverse as the hackers themselves.
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Who are "these hackers"?
As hacking is considered a crime in many
countries hackers go to great lengths to ensure that they remain anonymous.
Although there are hacking conventions and
hackers working together on various projects they all use a handle. These handles might
say a lot about the person, if you where to ever meet them but the majority of them simply
seem like cool nicknames that usually relates to cyber society in some way.
They are not the geeky looking techies or the
teenage rebel slash dropouts you see in some movies. There are so many different people
that hack for different reasons that it is not possible to stereotype them anymore, not
that it ever was.
The only thing that all of them have in common is
that they are computer literate and able to use this knowledge in ingenious ways.
Hacking is on the increase and when searching the web it is not
hard to see why.
The internet offers people a way to learn how to
hack and there are many sites where you can follow tutorials, download exploits; programs
or code that allows you to find the weaknesses of certain operating systems. On several
sites there are step by step instructions of what you need to know and how to use that
information to gain access to a system.
The message however is always the same. Whatever you get from the
site becomes your responsibility. The information it there but it is not to be used for
anything illegal and if you do get caught youre on your own.
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Hacking: Freeing information.
"Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is curiosity. My crime is
that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is
that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker and
this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you cant stop us al
after all, were all alike."
From Hackers manifesto by The Mentor
Those that follow the old school ethic of hacking (see hackers
and the media) believe in the freedom of information. Hacking is a way of getting
information that might not be readily available. They hack because they know the
technology and distribute that knowledge to those that dont. Exploits are free.
Although it might take someone a long time to write the code or program it is something
that it available to those that want it.
It is my opinion that hackers teach people how to think for
themselves. When a hacker who went by the handle Deth Vegetable posted guides to making
bombs on a newsgroup he gave people information. As a result some kids blew themselves up
while experimenting with the manuals that Deth Vegetable posted. The public outrage from
that incident reaffirmed in their minds the fact that hackers were dangerous and
subversive. The fact that he posted the information made him the culprit.
Instead of being angry with the hacker, people need to realise
that information is becoming available through sources other than traditional media. It is
no longer a commodity that produced by the media.
On-line zines, newsgroups and websites offer information that
have not passed though media gatekeepers. The internet gives people the opportunity to
find out just about anything, but it is what YOU do with that information that is
important. Information should be free, but in its freedom it implies that you have the
common sense to how to use it.
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Hackers and the Media
The use of the term hacker a much debated topic or at least it is
much contested. In the mainstream media the term hacker is most often used to describe
anyone that uses his or her computer skills to break into a system for monetary gain
(either by fraud or stealing information) or to cause disruption.
The way the term is used by the media and understood by the
public differs greatly from the way it is understood by hackers themselves. The way I
understand the term now, is a result of the research I have done and without it I would
have been ignorant of the different groups within this cyber subculture.
Hackers follow an ethic or code of conduct. It is not a set of
rules one has to follow and it is not enforced. It is simply a way of going about things
that distinguishes a hacker from, form example, a cracker. This ethic in its simplest form
is that; if you hack you do it for enjoyment and not financial gain. This is the old
school ethic that comes from the 60s, when hackers were primarily varsity students
who had access to computer at the university. Caught up in the 60s
anti-establishment way of questioning the rules of those who rule the hackers found ways
to break those rules using their programming skills.
Not everyone follows this ethic and many use the knowledge for
These people cannot be labeled 'hackers'. They are 'crackers' who
intentionally crash computers, steal information or money etc. It is a distinction to take
note of because they refer to different kinds of people. Newspapers very rarely make these
distinctions when referring to computer crime.
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Rules for hacking
1. Don't do damage intentionally.
2. Don't alter files other than to hide your presence or to
remove traces of your intrusion.
3. Don't leave any real name, handle, or phone number on any
4. Be careful who you share info with.
5. Don't leave your phone number with anyone you don't know.
6. Do NOT hack government computers.
7. Don't use codes unless you HAVE too.
8. Be paranoid!
9. Watch what you post on boards, be as general as possible.
10. Ask questions...but do it politely and don't expect to have
everything handed to you.
Rules for hacking' from:
HACK-FAQ! Non-Copyright MatrixMage Publications.
1994 No rights reserved. This file may be redistributed provided that the file and this notice remain intact.
This article may not under
any circumstances be resold
or redistributed for
compensation of any kind.
Hacking on the Internet:
The internet is filled with sites devoted to hacking
and most of these sites offer similar types of information. I have chosen just a view
sites that I are the best in terms of the information given and the design of these pages are
South African Hacking Alliance
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